Don’t expect to see the Aljamain Sterling in the cage anytime soon.
The UFC bantamweight champion, who defended his crown for a second time against TJ Dillashaw at last month’s UFC 280 event in Abu Dhabi, says that he plans to take some time away from the sport in the coming months, after which a top 135-pound contender might become apparent.
Sterling, 33, has landed in the crosshairs of the returning Henry Cejudo following his win against Dillashaw, while Sean O’Malley’s close win against Petr Yan in the UAE has also catapulted him into title contention — but the New Yorker says that whoever is at the top of the queue is going to have to wait a while.
“I haven’t even talked to the UFC, and I don’t have the desire, nor the motivation to go through another training camp like that…” Sterling said on his personal YouTube channel, as noted by BJPenn.com.
“So if they were to try to entice me to come back sooner rather than later, it’s going to have to be worth my time, because I’d like to catch up on things that I haven’t had the moments to sit down and smell the roses for a bit. Two fights [in 2022].
“People that think champions defend their belts more than two times in a year, you’re drunk. Most times a champion — go back and look through history — most times a champion usually fights one time a year, if they’re lucky. Two times is ideal, which I already did, and if I want to take a break, I think I earned that break.”
The New Yorker, though, was keen to note that he won’t be gone for too long — and forecast June as being an ideal time to step back into the cage.
“I just need a little bit more time,” he added. “Maybe I get the itch sooner rather than later, but as of right now, I don’t want to fight until June. I think that’s more then enough time to get me all the things that I need to get in motion so I can set these things up and then I can focus solely on just the fight. That’s what I want to do.”